In the Mahabharata, there is a story where Bhishma fought with his guru (teacher) Lord Parashurama.

What was the reason behind fighting with his guru? And who won the fight?

4 Answers 4


Bhishma recounts the story in the Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata, but first some background. Bhishma was the son of Shantanu, king of Hastinapura, and the goddess Ganga. But Ganga abandoned Shantanu, and Shantanu later fell in love with a woman named Satyavati. But Satyavati's (adopted) father Matsyagandha, the chief of a fisherman tribe, wouldn't consent to the marriage, because he was afraid that Bhishma and his descendants would rule Hastinapura rather than Satyavati's children. So Bhishma made a vow that he would never become king, and that he would remain celibate so that his descendants would never claim the throne. (It's because of that terrible vow that he got the name "Bhishma" or terrible.) Then Matsyagandha agreed to the marriage, and in due course of time, Shantanu and Satyavati had two sons, Vichitravirya and Chitrangadaa. When Shantanu died Chitrangada became king, but he soon died after a confrontation with a Gandharva because the two of them had the same name (yes, really!).

So the throne now fell to Vichitravirya, who had no wives, but Bhishma heard that the King of Kashi was holding a Swayamvara for his daughters Amba, Ambika, and Ambilika. So Bhishma went to Kashi to win those princesses for Vichitravirya. He kidnapped the three princesses, fighting all the kings of the world when they tried to stop him, and brought them back to Hastinapura. But then the eldest princess Amba informed Bhishma that she was in love with a king named Shalva, so Bhishma allowed her to go back to him. But Shalva wasn't willing to take her back, because she had been abducted by another man.

Amba was furious that Bhisma ruined her life, so to take revenge she went to Parashurama and asked for his help in killing Bhishma. Parashurama was reluctant to do so, both because Bhishma was his former student and because he had made a vow that he wouldn't take up arms anymore. But the sage Akritavana told Parashurama that it's not proper to abandon someone whom you have promised to help, and then reminded him that he had also made an additional vow about taking up arms under certain circumstance:

This also was, O great Muni, the vow then made by thee, O Rama ... that thou wouldst slay in battle the person, be he a Brahmana, a Kshatriya, a Vaisya, or a Sudra, who would be a foe to the Brahmanas. Thou hadst further promised that as long as thou wouldst live thou wouldst not abandon those that would come to thee in fright and seek thy protection, and that thou wouldst ... slay that proud warrior who would vanquish in battle all the assembled Kshatriyas of the earth!

And since Bhishma, in the process of kidnapping the three princesses, had defeated all the kings of the world in battle, Parashurama was allowed to fight him. And so he said "Taking this maiden with me, I will repair myself to the place where Bhishma is. If Bhishma, proud of his achievements in battle, do not obey my behest, I will then slay that arrogant wight. Even this is my fixed resolve."

So Parashurama went to Kurukshetra, the future site of the Mahabharata war, and asked Bhishma to come there. Bhishma came immediately, eager to see his former guru. Then Parashurama asked Bhishma to marry Amba, since no one else would marry her after having been abducted. But Bhishma said that he couldn't marry her himself because of his vow of celibacy, and he couldn't give her to his brother Vichitravirya because he had already promised to let her go to Shalva:

O Brahmana, I cannot, by any means, bestow this girl on my brother. O thou of Bhrigu's race, it was to myself that she said, I am Salwa's! And it was by me that she was permitted to go to Salwa's city. As regards myself, even this is my firm vow that I cannot abandon Kshatriya practices from fear or pity, or avarice of wealth, or lust!

So Parashurama was left with no choice but to try to kill him. That is how guru and shishya were forced to fight. Now Bhishma was was wearing armor and sitting in a chariot, whereas Parashurama was just on foot, so Bhishma offered him weapons and a chariot as well, but Parashurama said that he had no need for such things, being an incarnation of Vishnu:

The Earth, O Bhishma, is my car, and Vedas, like good steeds, are the animals that carry me! The wind is my car-driver, and my coat of mail is constituted by those mothers in the Vedas (viz., Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswati). Well-covered by these in battle, O son of Kuru's race, I will fight!

And so the first great battle fought in Kurukshetra commenced. The more famous Kurukshetra war between the Pandavas and Kauravas took 18 days, but the war between these two heroes took 24 days. By the 23rd night, Bhishma had tried all the maneuvers and weapons he could think of, but none of them were able to defeat Parashurama, so he prayed that the gods would suggest a path to victory while he slept. (Like the Mahabharata war, this Kurukshetra battle was also fought between sunrise and sunset every day.) And sure enough, in a dream the gods told him that they would give him the knowledge of the Prashwapastra, a weapon formerly wielded by the god Dyaus Pita (because Bhishma is an incarnation of Dyaus Pita):

Rise, O Ganga's son, thou needst have no fear! We will protect thee, for thou art our own body! Rama, the son of Jamadagni, will never be able to vanquish thee in battle! Thou, O bull of Bharata's race, wilt be the conqueror of Rama in combat! This beloved weapon, O Bharata, called Praswapa, appertaining to the lord of all creatures, and forged by the divine artificer, will come to thy knowledge, for it was known to thee in thy former life! Neither Rama, nor any person on earth is acquainted with it. Recollect it, therefore, O thou of mighty arms, and apply it with strength! O king of kings, O sinless one, it will come to thee of itself! ... ! Afflicted by the force of this thy weapon, the son of Jamadagni, will fall asleep!

The next day, Bhishma suddenly gained the knowledge of the Pashwapastra, but when he tried to use it, Narada and other gods came and stopped him. Here is Bhishma's account of it:

When I had aimed it, Narada addressed me, saying, "Yonder, O Kauravya, stay the gods in the sky! Even they are forbidding thee today! Do not aim the Praswapa weapon! Rama is an ascetic possessed of Brahma merit, and he is, again, thy preceptor! Never, Kauravya, humiliate him." While Narada was telling me this, I beheld those eight utterers of Brahma stationed in the sky. Smilingly, O king, they said unto me slowly, "O chief of the Bharatas, do even what Narada sayeth. Even that, O best of Bharata's race, is highly beneficial to the world!"

And shortly thereafter Parashurama was approached by the spirits of his ancestors, who similarly told him to stop fighting, because Parashurama wasn't supposed to act like a Kshatriya anymore, and because Bhishma was destined to die at the hands of another:

O sire, never display such 'rashness again, the rashness, viz., of engaging in battle with Bhishma, or especially with any Kshatriya, O descendant of Bhrigu's race, to fight is the duty of a Kshatriya! Study (of the Vedas) and practice of vows are the highest wealth of Brahmanas! For some reason, before 'this, thou hadst been ordered by us to take up weapons.... Let this battle with Bhishma be thy very last, for enough of it thou hadst already.... Bhishma is one of the foremost of Vasus! ... -how can he be defeated by thee? Desist, therefore, O Bhargava! That foremost of the Pandavas, Arjuna, the mighty son of Indra, hath been ordained by the Self-create to be the slayer of Bhishma!

And so after some contretemps, Parashurama agreed to put down his weapons and surrender. He told Amba that he couldn't defeat Bhishma and that Bhishma was the one she should seek refuge in. But Amba wasn't interested in anything but revenge at this point and she said this:

As regards myself, I will not go a second time to Bhishma. I will, however, O perpetuator of Bhrigu's race, go thither, O thou endued with wealth of asceticism, where I may (obtain the means to) myself slay Bhishma in battle!

So she engaged in Tapasya (deep meditation) until Shiva appeared before her, and she asked that she be reborn as a man so that she could kill Bhishma. Shiva granted her the boon, and Amba immediately jumped into a fire. She was reborn as Draupadi's brother Shikhandi, who was instrumental in Bhishma's death, because Bhishma was unwilling to fight someone who had been a woman in a past life.

  • 1
    So to answer OP's 2nd question, And who won the fight?, it ended in a peace treaty or Bhishma won it? You might want to add that in bold at the very beginning or at the end. Jan 12, 2016 at 5:22
  • @VisalakshiMahadevan Please add your own answer if you have different perspective...
    – YDS
    Aug 15, 2019 at 5:03

Bhisma had vowed to remain celibate throughout his life and not become a king. So his step brother Vichitravirya was to be the king. When Vichitravirya became of right age Bhisma started searching brides for him. The king of Kashi had three daughters namely, Amba, Ambika and Ambalika. The king announced a Swayambar where the participants had to fight in a battle and the winner would marry the three princesses. Bhisma won there above others and abducted the three princess. He let his brother Vichitravirya marry Ambika and Ambalika. But Amba loved Salwa so he let her go to Him. But Salwa didn't accept her as she was own and taken away by another person in a fight.

Amba returns to Bhisma and asks him to marry her. But due to his vow, Bhisma denies. Hoping taht Bhisma wouldn't deny his Guru's order she takes refuge of Parshurama. Parshurama says to Bhisma:

O Kauravya, thou acceptest not, for pleasing me, this daughter of the ruler of Kasi! O delighter of the Kurus, I cannot be gratified unless thou actest in this way! O mighty-armed one, take this maiden and preserve thy race! Having been abducted by thee, she obtaineth not a husband.

But Bhisma in favour of truth agrees to fight instead of breaking his vow. Hence, a battle rages between Bhisma and Parshurama.

The battle goes on for around 23 days without any conclusion. Then Bhisma was stopped by gods from using Praswapa weapon as it would have humiliated his Guru. Parshurama was also stopped by Pitrus as he was not fighting for a proper reason being a Brahmana:

O sire, never display such 'rashness again, the rashness, viz., of engaging in battle with Bhishma, or especially with any Kshatriya, O descendant of Bhrigu's race, to fight is the duty of a Kshatriya! Study (of the Vedas) and practice of vows are the highest wealth of Brahmanas! For some reason, before 'this, thou hadst been ordered by us to take up weapons. Thou hadst then perpetrated that terrible and unbecoming feat. Let this battle with Bhishma be thy very last, for enough of it thou hadst already. O thou of mighty arms, leave the combat.

So Parshurama declares the greatness of Bhisma and tells Amba to take refuge of Bhisma instead:

'O damsel, in the very sight of all these persons, I have fought according to the best of my power and displayed my prowess! By using even the very best of weapons I have not been able to obtain any advantage over Bhishma, that foremost of all wielders of weapons! I have exerted now to the best of my power and might. O beautiful lady, go withersoever thou wishest! What other business of thine can I accomplish? Seek the protection of Bhishma himself! Thou hast no other refuge now! Shooting mighty weapons Bhishma hath vanquished me!'

Amba being turned down by Bhisma gives up her life and later reborns as Shikhandi and plays an important role in Bhisma's death.

Mahabharat 1.102,5.181,188,189


Bhisma was student of Lord Parshurama. In the Mahabharat , bhisma has given his words that he will give his full life to service the his father's kingdom. And when he will never get marry and create his own family.

When "Kashi"'s King arranged his 3 daughter's swayamvar ( a ceremony where girl choose life partner for marriage ) that time Bhisma went to that ceremony to get girl for his cousin son "Vhichirtra Virya".

It was tradition that Kashi's girl always get marry to "Kuru-raj" ( family of Bhisma ). So Kashi's king allow their daughter to get marry to "Vhichitra Virya". Bhisma now come back to Hastinapur with all three girls.

The three girls named were Amba, Ambika & Ambhalika. The first girl Ambha was in love with a king named "Salved". She was about to marry with him in swamyavar. In Swayamvar when Salved king ask Bhisma for fight, Bhisma won.

Now when Amba told that she & salved king were in love, them bhisma didnt bring her to Hastinapur. But later on salved king didnt accept Amba as she was won by Bhisma in fight.

Now Abma has nobody to love & marriage. She went to Lord Parshuram for justice and then Lord parshuram invite his student Bhisma for fight.

This fight went for many years, but no body won the fight. The fight was stopped by Lord Shiva. That time Lord shiva blessed Amba that she will be reason for Bhisma's death one day.

You can see these answer in video format from


A lot of false and fictitious stories are being circulated around the internet as a part of a major conspiracy to weaken Hinduism. Quora and YouTube are biggest sources of such false and fictitious stories. I have read Mahabharat as early as 1980. There was no such story that Maharishi Parashuram beheaded his mother Renuka, on orders of his father. Actually such an act would have been a great sin in Hinduism. Around the age of 16, Maharishi Parashuram returns with an axe given to him by Lord Shiva after he performed severe Tapasya. Shortly after he returned to his Father Ashram, his father was killed by soldiers of Kartiviya Arjun, as he had a dispute with him over a sacred cow that he possessed. So the account of him killing his mother Renuka is completely false and has been added in recent 10 years. And these false stories have received widespread publicity in the internet. Maharishi Parashuram then kills Kartiviya Arjun along with numerous soldiers gaurding the palace. This feat he achieved at the age of 16.

His father Jamadgni was killed shortly after he returned from Tapasya and he avenges death of his father by killing Kartiviya Arjun, who earlier defeated Ravana King of Sri Lanka in a duel.

Bhishma defeating Maharishi Parashuram is another fictitious story being circulated by Jews, around the internet. There was no way Anyone can defeat a Maharishi, even if was unarmed.

Mahabharat serial which is now being circulated in YouTube was possibly re-shot to promote the fictitious story that Bhishma defeated Maharishi Parashuram.

As far as I remember in the original Mahabharat serial that I viewed in 1990 there was no such story.

No ordinary human in this world can defeat a Maharishi, even with all divine weapons. This is because Maharishi are immortal.

Maharishi Parashuram had performed Tapasya for thousands and thousands of years, how can he be defeated by a ordinary warrior like Bhishma. This is a Jewish conspiracy to weaken Hinduism.

  • 2
    Welcome to Hinduism.SE!! Please cite scriptural sources in your answer...
    – YDS
    Aug 15, 2019 at 5:06

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